Opinion: Social media is more beneficial than harmful

Sydney Bommersbach, Assistant Online Editor

Click. Click. The camera shutter closes and takes a picture that will surely be posted on social media platforms later. Although social media is often viewed as having negative impacts on users, such a creating pressure to have perfect lives and being a breeding ground for cyberbullying, recently it has been used to create positive change.

According to Data Reportal, worldwide social media user numbers have grown to almost 3.5 billion at the start of 2019. With this many people online, the possibilities of creating good are endless. Most often, social media is used to raise awareness for causes or issues.

With the newest generation of children growing up with social media, their views and uses of it are different than before. According to Demos Company, 87% of teenagers agree that social media is an effective way to gain momentum behind social issues.

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 is an early example of social media activism. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat users posted videos of themselves doing the challenge, (hopefully donating to the ALS Association also) and then nominated somebody else to do it. Through social media, awareness was brought to ALS and supporters ended up raising over $115 million, according to the Evening Standard Company.

Social media has also been used in a positive way through the #MeToo movement, as this hashtag is used to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault. It creates and unites a group of people who have had the same experiences and offers comfort and advice. The hashtag has been used more than 19 million times on Twitter from the date of the initial tweet, according to Pew Research Center.

Most recently, environmental posts have been taking social media by storm, promising to plant trees, pick up trash, and clean beaches for every like, retweet or comment. One of the most notable was a post created by Tentree, a company that plants ten trees for each product purchased. After releasing their post, they’ve already reached their first goal (5 million likes) and planted 500,000 trees as promised. The picture currently has around 15 million likes; when the post reaches 20 million likes, they will plant another 500,000 trees.   

Social media is labeled as toxic and is given a negative connotation, which simply isn’t true. With so many different people and groups on social media platforms, it is the perfect place to band together, join goals and forces, and create positive change.